NewTek Challenges the Trucks

TriCaster proves its worth at recent high-profile sporting events
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SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS
With new outlets for broadcasting live, on-site events opening up every day, NewTek is providing remote productions an alternative to expensive OB trucks that may change the paradigm for creating and distributing location events. With the release of its TriCaster TCXD300 HD/SD portable live production system, NewTek, a San Antonio, Texas-based provider of broadcast production systems, has given remote producers the ability to create live productions either directly from courtside or inside a virtual set from a software-based workstation that can practically sit on a card table.

"Combined with our 3PLAYHD/SD slow motion replay systems, this means both broadcasters and venue event management teams can present their audiences with live HD video and instant replay coverage at a fraction of its previous costs," said Philip Nelson, senior vice president, strategic development, NewTek. "We know the networks will still roll out a full production truck to broadcast something like the NFL's Super Bowl, but there are many other venues that can use our system to cost-effectively produce remote sports shows with far more sophistication than ever before."

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ESPN used NewTek’s TriCaster to provide live venue video and instant replay at Winter X Games XIV in Aspen, Colorado in January. THREE OPTIONS

Matching the needs of today's multiple delivery options, TriCaster uses 32-bit floating point, 4:4:4:4 video processing to simultaneously output live 1080i or 720P HD video and live 720p HD streaming with Adobe Flash or Windows Media in either push or pull mode. As its name implies, TriCaster also offers the third option of providing content to digital signage systems.

Among many other sports events, NewTek's technology has already been used by ESPN to provide live venue video and instant replay at Winter X Games XIV in Aspen, Colorado in January.

"At Winter X Games, we used two TCXD300's, and two TriCaster 3PLAY's to provide live venue video and instant replays to our spectators on site," said Kate Nelligan, programming producer, Global X Events & Development for ESPN. "We customized the show for each competition venue screen so we could deliver two to three separate, interactive shows, simultaneously, to fans that have come to watch a specific event."

As Nelligan put it, using TriCaster meant ESPN did not have to pay for a lot of production tools they didn't need, which meant they could hire a bigger crew to man individual positions for each of the different shows.

Nelligan said ESPN will use NewTek's TriCaster at the network's first ever Winter X Games Europe event in Tignes, France, March 10-12.

"We see this as a true test of TriCaster's capabilities as a compact, robust live production solution in a pretty rough environment. It will be operated from the event control tower, on the side of a mountain, from which the entire event will be directed. That puts us right in the mix of the live action and you can't do that from a production truck, even if you could park it on the side of a mountain."

NBA PARTNERSHIP

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Last month, the NBA used TriCaster to live stream Webcasts of the 2010 All-Star Jam Session Sprite Slam Dunk Showdown and NBA Development League Dream Factory. © Joe Murphy/Getty Images/NBAE In February, the NBA used TriCaster to live stream Webcasts of the 2010 All-Star Jam Session Sprite Slam Dunk Showdown and NBA Development League Dream Factory, as well as to drive live venue video of all the center court action to the arena's video boards and on-site plasma screens. In addition, each day, two or three games were broadcast live to the NBA's dedicated channel, NBA TV, using the same feed, switching between multiple cameras, virtual inputs and live virtual sets while automatically inserting clips, titles and motion graphics with multichannel effects.

"The NBA partnered with NewTek two years ago to help develop this technology," said Shawn H. Smith, vice president of business development and chief marketing officer, NBA Development League. "This year we have used TriCaster to Webcast all 400 of the NBA Development League's games live on NBA Futurecast, except the 16 of them shown on the Versus network cable system."

Smith calculates the use of TriCaster can cut an estimated $5,000 to $10,000 per game in production expenses, saving each NBA Development League team a potential $120,000 to $240,000 over a single season.

"In January, this technology enabled the NBA Development League to became the first professional sports league to broadcast games digitally to the Web and take that transmission live to TV in high definition," Smith said. "We are working along with NewTek to revolutionize the business model for broadcasting live HD."

Recently, radio broadcasters such as the Steve Harvey Radio Show, Leo LaPorte's "The Tech Guy," CBS Radio, and ESPN Radio, have started using TriCaster to let their listeners put a face to their personalities' voices. Now this technology is reaching even the high school level, letting local teams drive stadium billboards and stream Friday Night Lights excitement to their communities.

"These teams can repurpose their content by sending the broadcast directly from the TriCaster to local TV stations or cablecasters' headends," Smith said. "We call it 'a truck in a box'. The advent of this NewTek technology changes the format of how the entire country can access this content either online or on TV."